Battle of Carpi

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This article is about the 1701 battle between Austria and France. For the 1815 battle between Austria and Naples, see Battle of Carpi (1815).
Battle of Carpi
Part of the War of the Spanish Succession
Schlacht bei Carpi 1701.png
Date July 9, 1701
Location Carpi, near Legnago
45°08′13.90″N 11°23′41.50″E / 45.1371944°N 11.3948611°E / 45.1371944; 11.3948611
Result Austrian victory
Belligerents
 Habsburg Monarchy  Kingdom of France[1]
Commanders and leaders
Prince Eugene of Savoy Nicolas Catinat
Strength
30,000 25,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Carpi was a series of manoeuvres in the summer of 1701, and the first battle of the War of the Spanish Succession that took place on July 9, 1701 between France and Austria.

Prelude[edit]

In Italy the emperor took the initiative, and an Austrian army under Prince Eugene, intended to overrun the Spanish possessions in the Peninsula, assembled in Tyrol in the early summer, while the opposing army (French, Spaniards and Piedmontese), commanded by Marshal Catinat, was slowly drawing together between the Chiese and the Adige. But supply difficulties hampered Eugene, and the French were able to occupy the strong positions of the Rivoli, defile above Verona. There Catinat thought himself secure, as all the country to the east was Venetian and neutral.

But Eugene, while making ostentatious preparations to enter Italy by the Adige or Lake Garda or the Brescia road, secretly reconnoitred passages over the mountains between Rovereto and the Vicenza district. On the 27th of May, taking infinite precautions as to secrecy, and requesting the Venetian authorities to offer no opposition so long as his troops behaved well, Eugene began his march by paths that no army had used since Charles V's time, and on the 28th his army was on the plains.

His first object was to cross the Adige without fighting, and also by ravaging the duke of Mantua Charles IV's private estates (sparing the possessions of the common people) to induce that prince to change sides. Catinat was completely surprised, for he had counted upon Venetian neutrality, and when in the search for a passage over the lower Adige, Eugene's army spread to Legnago and beyond, he made the mistake of supposing that the Austrians intended to invade the Spanish possessions south of the Po River. His first dispositions had, of course, been for the defence of the Rivoli approaches, but he now thinned out his line until it reached to the Po.

The battle[edit]

Prince Eugene crossing the Alps.

After five weeks' cautious manoeuvring on both sides, Eugene found an unguarded spot about 10 km southeast of Legnago near the town of Castagnaro. With the usual precautions of secrecy (deceiving even his own army), he crossed the lower Adige in the night of the 8th-9 July, and overpowered the small cavalry corps that alone was encountered at Carpi (July 9).

Catinat at once concentrated his scattered army backwards on the Mincio, while Eugene turned northward and regained touch with his old line of supply, Roveredo-Rivoli. For some time Eugene was in great difficulties for supplies, as the Venetians would not allow his barges to descend the Adige. At last, however, he made his preparations to cross the Mincio close to Peschiera del Garda and well beyond Catinat's left, with the intention of finding a new supply area about Brescia. This was executed on the 28th of July.

Catinat's cavalry, though coming within sight of Eugene's bridges, offering no opposition. It seems that the marshal was well content to find that his opponent had no intention of attacking the Spanish possessions in the Peninsula, at any rate Catinat fell back quietly to the Oglio. But his army resented his retreat before the much smaller force of the Austrians and, early in August, his rival Tessé reported this to Paris, whereupon Marshal Villeroy, a favourite of Louis, was sent to take command.

References[edit]

  1. ^ George Ripley, Charles Anderson Dana, The American Cyclopaedia, New York, 1874, p. 250, "...the standard of France was white, sprinkled with golden fleur de lis...". *[1] The original Banner of France was strewn with fleurs-de-lis. *[2]:on the reverse of this plate it says: "Le pavillon royal était véritablement le drapeau national au dix-huitième siecle...Vue du chateau d'arrière d'un vaisseau de guerre de haut rang portant le pavillon royal (blanc, avec les armes de France)."[3] from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica: "The oriflamme and the Chape de St Martin were succeeded at the end of the 16th century, when Henry III., the last of the house of Valois, came to the throne, by the white standard powdered with fleurs-de-lis. This in turn gave place to the famous tricolour."

Sources[edit]